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In the Spotlight with Kimberly Cole

In the last three years, Kimberly Cole has proven her role as the underdog of the music industry. Her eighties-inspired flair, tough-girl edge, and tongue-in-cheek song lyrics took the world by storm, spawning two albums and EP’s, three hit singles, and millions of devoted fans.

“I think it’s having really great people around me and also being really excited at every opportunity that comes my way,” Cole says of her ability to handle her rapid success. “I’m still humbled, and I work really hard, and the team I have-- my manager, my producer—[are] great people. We’re all first priority to each other.”

Even in Cole’s early career, the team’s loyalty and determination laid the groundwork for a successful take-off. The singer released her first two extended plays, “Nitty Gritty” and “Superstar”, as a prelude to her first full-length album (2008 and 2009, respectively). The efforts not only illuminated Cole’s potential, but also launched her into the public eye with “Nitty Gritty” charting #30 on the New Music Weekly Top 40 and “Superstar” being featured on iTunes’ “What’s Hot!” list.

It wasn’t until Cole was booked as opening act for Katy Perry and LMFAO, however, that her name gained recognition. “My experience with them was amazing. [Perry] was doing a huge event for New Years [2009], so we pitched the idea to have my show open for them and they loved it. I met her, she’s great. I’ve been a fan of her forever,” Cole states.

Performing as opening act served as the largest platform for Cole yet, though she admits her team took a gamble for the opportunity. “The motto of our camp is ‘Try huge things.’ If they say no, they say no, and that’s fine. I think that we’ve gotten a lot of interesting gigs because we’re not afraid to ask,” she comments. The risk paid off as Cole’s fan base grew significantly in the following months.

By the time Cole released her first full-length album, “Smack You – The Remixes”, the artist acquired a staggering one million followers on Twitter. Social networking, she claims, played an integral role in helping her build and sustain a relationship with her fans. “For me, social networking is everything. I love it. You’re always in touch; you’re one with [fans] and you’re almost equals, in a way. I need them, they need me. I also love reading other people’s tweets. You just feel like you know them. It’s the same with me when I’m reading Kim Kardashian tweets. It’s cool not to feel so separate from each other. I try to answer everybody back, because I feel like we’re all the same,” she says.

Cole’s rising fan base further became evident with the release of her 2010 single, “Smack You”. The vengeful, electro-pop song debuted at # and peaked at #4 on Billboard’s Dance/Club Play. “To have a fan base of people who can’t wait to hear what you’re doing gives me so much fuel. I want to constantly raise the bar for myself. That support is everything, and the fans need to know that it’s touching,” the singer comments.

Among Cole’s biggest supporters remains high-profile celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton. Shortly after its debut, Hilton posted a commending review of the single, dubbing it “strong and defiant yet still a great dance/pop song”. The singer recalls, “I was actually in Target shopping for some supplies last April and my phone was blowing up. [Hilton] had blogged about ‘Smack You’ and, of course, I’ve been reading his blog forever and I love him, and I love that he loves music so much. He found it on his own and I was so excited that he loved the song. He chose the song for the compilation of the Hard Rock Hotel’s international playlist. I’ve always been a big fan of his, and the fact that he was a fan of something I did is amazing. My producer actually works with some of the artists he works with, so I feel like he’s part of the family now. I’ll do anything I can do to support him.”

The singer’s latest endeavor gained the support of not only Hilton, but that of the Oxygen network as well. In late 2010, Cole partnered with Oxygen Media to create her newest album, “Bad Girls Club”, which also provided the soundtrack for season six of the popular network show bearing the same name. She comments, “What we’re doing is actually really innovative. Even business outlets are taking notice to this new thing we did with Oxygen…last season, when I wrote “Smack You”, I felt like the song would be perfect for the Bad Girls Club because it’s catty and I wrote it about girls like that. We pitched it to the music supervisor, they loved the song, and they used it in their first episode of last season. The reaction from that episode and the song together was huge. Our relationship grew from there. When we were working on the music video, we cast Natalie Nunn, who I adore…she’s the baddest bad girl of them all! [The network] loved the video and saw that there was potential there, so the marketing and the president felt we should release an album based on the official soundtrack of season six...all my music played throughout the season.”

After months of recording, the album debuted on iTunes in December of 2010. During the record’s creation, the concept of the songs came easy to the singer, who longed to unleash her inner diva. “The idea is bad girl anthem,” she says. “Writing and performing “Smack You” unleashed a new thing inside of me where the level of fun I have on stage has elevated so much in being able to tap into the ultra ego that I have. In real life, I would never smack people. It’s a fantasy. I wanted every song to be about a bad bitch…a fantasy that people, at one point of their life want to talk about, or things that are taboo. They’re fun songs with a little twist, basically saying ‘I don’t normally do things like this, but tonight I’m going to’.”

The absence of ballads, a trait characteristic of Cole’s work, furthers the originality of the album’s tracks. “Right now, I’m at a stage where my live show is fire”, she refers to her upbeat tempo songs. “In my previous EP, I did have a ballad which is now the end-song on Mean Girls 2, and people love that song. We’re definitely going to grow from here. I’m very emotional. I’ve recorded many ballads in my library of songs...look out for ballads and mid-tempo songs, but for now, Bad Girls Club and party anthems are a good mix.” The album currently dominates the Oxygen channel and its most popular show.

While Cole’s latest album remains in heavy rotation, the singer is already penning new material and planning for her upcoming single and promotional tour. “I’ve been in the studio and I wrote two fabulous songs this week. I’m always writing,” she comments. “‘Smack You’ is just going on radio right now. We’ll be shooting the video for the next single, which we have yet to decide, but we’re really excited about the concept we have. Look out for the Billboard charts again, because I’m collaborating with really big people right now. I’m also doing a Bad Girls Tour that we’ll announce really soon. We’re possibly bringing some bad girls on the road with me, so I have a lot of little plans coming up,” she shares.

As her future plans near the horizon, the demand grows larger and the anticipation builds. The key to her success? She says, “I’m not taking myself too seriously. Being who I am without pretending to be something I’m not is where I am right now.”

Credits: Kimberly Cole

© Veronika Tacheva, 2010. All rights reserved. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.

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